The train smells of exhaust and oranges. The citrus is a welcome change. Foreign on this Friday evening exodus from the city. Rumble of tracks shake the cars, pitching them back and forth, side to side. Through the window: a blur of broken backyards and deserted buildings, of flimsy fences and weed-choked parking lots. A glimpse into urban periphery.
Light drains from the sky, leaves seeped-in patches of grey. It wants to rain, but can’t quite commit. Water sighs in the puddles along the tracks: liquid memorials of an afternoon downpour. Crossing over the streets, the red taillights pattern the damp concrete, their impatient flickers blink for blocks.
Soon the city is left behind. The rattling tracks relent, soften to a gentler sway. And residential roads give way to highways, factories, and sprawling storage facilities. The parking lots are slotted with unending rows of trucks ready to haul away loads and loads of manufactured things. Things so new they have no stories to tell.
The train has plenty of narratives. Clutches of conversations surface from surrounding seats. Laughter and coughs. Cell phone rings and one-sided stories. Recognized faces reuniting over aisles. Remember this… remember when… becomes the lyrics the train’s hypnotic rhythm.
Outside, the last of the light clings to clouds, dresses their edges in pink. The trees and electric poles stand as starved silhouettes. Beyond, the fields stretch out, languish in the twilight, oblivious (or perhaps apathetic) to the silver streak slicing through in the semi-darkness. Its piercing whistle a mere inconvenience.
But it announces our steady progression into the evening: the cadence of moving metal, metal moving toward the next lighted oasis through the next stretch of unfractured dark.